Open Access Open Badges Research article

Sunitinib treatment does not improve blood supply but induces hypoxia in human melanoma xenografts

Jon-Vidar Gaustad*, Trude G Simonsen, Marit N Leinaas and Einar K Rofstad

Author Affiliations

Group of Radiation Biology and Tumor Physiology, Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, Montebello, Oslo, N-0310, Norway

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:388  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-388

Published: 4 September 2012



Antiangiogenic agents that disrupt the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway have been demonstrated to normalize tumor vasculature and improve tumor oxygenation in some studies and to induce hypoxia in others. The aim of this preclinical study was to investigate the effect of sunitinib treatment on the morphology and function of tumor vasculature and on tumor oxygenation.


A-07-GFP and R-18-GFP human melanoma xenografts grown in dorsal window chambers were used as preclinical tumor models. Morphologic parameters of tumor vascular networks were assessed from high-resolution transillumination images, and tumor blood supply time was assessed from first-pass imaging movies recorded after a bolus of 155‚ÄČkDa tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate-labeled dextran had been administered intravenously. Tumor hypoxia was assessed from immunohistochemical preparations of the imaged tissue by use of pimonidazole as a hypoxia marker.


Sunitinib treatment reduced vessel densities, increased vessel segment lengths, did not affect blood supply times, and increased hypoxic area fractions.


Sunitinib treatment did not improve vascular function but induced hypoxia in A-07-GFP and R-18-GFP tumors.

Antiangiogenic treatment; Sunitinib; Intravital microscopy; Vascular normalization; Tumor hypoxia